Why Does Hand Washing So Powerful? Let's Do It Right.

Answered by: Dr Sri Viknarajan
Updated on: April 22, 2020

Question:
Good day doctor. I have read a lot of information online. I was quite shocked that even the hand sanitizer and face mask all emptied from the rack due to panic buying. This virus seems to be very dangerous. So, with the protection gear very limited in stock now. How can we protect ourselves? Is it true just by handwashing is good enough? Please enlighten me, doctor. Thank you.
Answer:
Good day sir. Thank you for your question. Indeed this virus has affected us in many ways. Causing panic and fear in people. However, we should be calm and act smart about it. There are a lot of other things you should practice to protect yourself, such as obeying the Movement Control Order, avoid crowded areas, practice social distancing and so on. Yes, handwashing is one of the best ways to protect us against this virus, provided that you are doing it right and making it into a habit. By washing your hands, you can kill the germs and stop transmitting it to yourself and others.

Panic struck the whole world as Coronavirus shook the world. Everyone wants to protect themselves from being victimized, Malaysians are no exception. The face masks and sanitizers emptied from the rack and the market stock depleted. As the supply of protective equipment is gone from the market. How can we protect ourselves?

Calm down, people. Actually, we don't need to be so panicked. Without realizing it, it's easy to protect ourselves from this virus. It is something we do every day, but not many people really care. According to experts, the only effective way to protect yourself is to wash your hands!

This is what we do every day. Maybe many times every day. How can it be a weapon in the fight against this scary virus? The secret is to use the right technique and soap.


If you still don't remember the 7 steps of proper handwashing, let's check it out.

  • After washing your hands with water and a bit of soap, rub the surface of your palm against each other.

  • Then, scrub between your fingers.

  • After that, rub the back of your hands and fingers with the other hand.

  • Don't forget your thumb. This is the part that is often left out when you wash your hands.

  • Your nails also need some scrubbing. Lots of dirt may stick to it. To do so, rub the tips of your fingers in the middle of your palm

  • Another often overlooked part. Our wrist. Rub your wrist with the other hand in a circular motion.

  • The last step is to rinse the soap with water and dry your hands.

Effective hand washing time is at least between 15-20 seconds. You can sing or perform unique motions to make your handwashing sessions more fun, especially with kids. Follow the steps above to have your hands thoroughly washed. According to studies, the parts of the hands that are often left out are the back of the hands, nails, and wrists.

Why is washing your hands with soap more effective? In fact, the virus is covered with an outer layer made of fat components. So, the alkaline nature of soap is very powerful in destroying this virus. The fat component that protects the virus will break down when exposed to soap thus that’s the end of the virus.

Washing hands is also better than using sanitizers especially if your hands look dirty.

Scientists and health practitioners recommend the use of liquid or gel wash instead of foam and bar soaps. This is because liquid and gels need to be washed longer to get rid of than foam type. So, you will take a longer time when washing hands using them. Bar soaps can store bacteria if kept in an open and wet place. If you use a bar soap you are advised to rinse the surface of the soap before using it, especially if the soap looks slimy.

Washing your hands properly can prevent you from getting infected by harmful bacteria or viruses. You cannot control what you touch, and it is possible for you to touch a surface containing bacteria or viruses. You also cannot control someone is who touches the same surface which might be a carrier of the virus. But you can protect yourself and stop spreading it to other surfaces or to other people.


When do you need to wash your hands? It is advisable to wash your hands in the following situations:

  • Before preparing the food

  • Before eating

  • Before visiting or taking care of sick people

  • Before treating a wound

  • After a meal

  • After the preparation of food especially the preparation of raw materials

  • After going to the toilet

  • After visiting or taking care of sick people

  • After treating a patient

  • After changing baby diapers or after helping a child to the toilet

  • After coughing, blowing nose or sneezing

  • After touching animals, feeding them or after cleaning animal waste

  • After touching or removing the trash

This coronavirus outbreak is indeed scary. However, you can protect yourself, your family and those around you with something very simple which is hand washing. Let's do it!




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